Published On: Sun, Sep 10th, 2017

Rajnath Singh in Srinagar – Imagine if?

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2017_9$largeimg209_Sep_2017_234349880Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is in Srinagar on a four day visit of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The official hand out on his first meeting with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has flagged Agenda of Alliance (AoA) and security situation as the priorities. Imagine for the sake of an argument, if it was not 9 September 2017 but 31 March 1959, we would have Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir struggling with the protocol to receive a minister from Delhi, with whom his Government had entered into a bilateral agreement, on the basis of an ‘emerging urgency’ and the agreement was freshly referred to the United Nations to arrange a UN supervised vote on it.
Rajnath Singh would have thanked Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad for granting him exemption from requiring an ‘entry permit’ for his visit to the State and would have overly thanked him for exempting all other Indian citizens, from requiring an entry permit (visa) for future entry into the State, with effect from, 01 April 1959. Imagine for a while if Pakistan had a better quality of diplomacy and improved understanding of state craft in 1948 and it would not have put its finger on the final figure of 18,000 but agreed to Indian demand to have 21,000 soldiers on her side of cease fire line and settled with having 6,000 on its side of cease fire line, we would not have been discussing AoA. Rajnath Singh would have been reaching out to every citizen of the State and campaigning to win their support during a UN supervised referendum.
Imagine if we had an able and forward looking leadership in Kashmir and 9 September 2017 was 31 March 1959, Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad while discussing the security situation, would have reminded Rajnath Singh, about the statement made by Noel Baker the United Kingdom representative to the UN Security Council at the 241st meeting of Security Council held on 5 February, that, “It is my conviction that raids and incidents will continue to occur until the question of Kashmir has been disposed of by the Security Council…And, so long as fear dominates the minds of the peoples in that area of the Punjab and of Kashmir, incidents will continue and the situation will remain extremely grave.” The dates are different and so are the two leaders.
One does not need to be bold as a wrestler or honest as a pious priest but just needs to be bare common and bare normal to make his or her point on merit. On 9 September 2017 believing it to be 31 March 1959, Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad as Kashmiri Prime Minister, would have thanked Rajnath Singh, for considering the ‘emerging urgency’ and sending a sub-ordinate supplement of Indian army to defend the territory, protect life, property and honour of the people, on whose behalf the Kashmir Government had pleaded an ‘emerging urgency’. At the same time the most important element in his AoA would have been a respectful reminder that security situations, has to find a balance with the UN Security Council restraints placed on the number, behaviour and location of Indian security forces.
Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad while discussing the security situation would have flagged his concern to Rajnath Singh and reminded him that the Kashmiri Government and Government of India could not ignore what Noel Baker the United Kingdom representative to the UN Security Council had further added at the 241st meeting of Security Council held on 5 February 1948. Noel Baker had made a serious point in regard to killing of ‘insurgents’ and said, “We want a real total stoppage now, without further bloodshed, without more killing of the insurgents, whose votes, after all, we want in the plebiscite when it comes, our aim being to secure a responsible government, as the representative of India has stated. We must get such a scheme. The question is how to do it.”
Therefore, the statements of Noel Baker of UK and Krishna Menon of India have established as early as in February 1948, that killing an ‘insurgent’ might have accrued a continued criminal liability in the context of Kashmir. The killing of a State Subject after labelling him as an ‘insurgent’ carries a criminal liability. Krishna Menon Indian representative at the UN Security Council at the 762nd meeting (S/PV.762.Add.1) has conceded that “neither India nor Pakistan claim sovereignty over, the State of Jammu and Kashmir”. He is right because the question of sovereignty has to be ascertained through a UN supervised referendum.
Imagine if Kashmiri leadership had been vigilant, had shown a reliable understanding of the Kashmir case, carried an influence, and had it prevailed upon Government of Pakistan and its leadership on the choice of appointing a Plebiscite Administrator, Kashmir would have been through the process of a Plebiscite in 1949. We note that it took India over six months that it accepted the UNCIP resolution of August 1948 in December 1948. The Commission had succeeded in obtaining agreement that once the truce agreement had been signed, and during that truce, a new agreement should be reached in order to synchronise, the withdrawal of forces and enable the plebiscite to be held.
An examination of the record of the UN debates reveals that it was the misfortune of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and added with the poor diplomatic skills in Islamabad, which account for the failure in the realisation of the right of self-determination. The two errors have been pointed out in paras 72 and 73 of the statement made by the Colombian representative at the 768th meeting of UN Security Council held on 15 February 1957.
In para 72 Colombian representative states, “Unfortunately, the atmosphere of confidence that had been achieved was lost owing to a series of errors and incidents which it is advisable to recall so that they will not recur.” He goes on to add in para 73, “The first was the appointment of the Plebiscite Administrator. As it is now nine years ago, I think it is worth-while to explain what happened. In the Commission the Colombian delegation urged that the Plebiscite Administrator should be a neutral, that being the only way to induce India to abide by the offer which had been obtained with such difficulty. Unfortunately, other delegations had explicit instructions to urge that the Plebiscite Administrator should be a United States citizen. My delegation suggested, in private conversations also, that we should accept the Indian Government’s suggestion that the President of the International Red Cross should be appointed Plebiscite Administrator. If, at that time, we had accepted the Plebiscite Administrator proposed by India, the President of the International Red Cross, the plebiscite would already have been held. Instead of that, Admiral Nimitz waited for nine years in New York for an opportunity to organize the plebiscite. But these errors are delicate matters, because an apparent diplomatic victory, obtained at a certain time, served propaganda purposes, but in reality undid all the work the Commission had accomplished.”
India and Pakistan are working hard to return to normal intra-State relationship and work out the irritants. There is no other alternative to this approach. Unless the people and the leadership of Kashmir have a reliable understanding of their case history, they will continue to be of no use or of little use in assisting Pakistan or India, to further their case. It is important to highlight the Colombian concern expressed at the UN Security Council. In para 74 of the statement made at the 74 768th meeting of UN Security Council held on 15 February 1957, Colombia has said, “The Commission had provided for an arrangement, system or procedure that was to be carried out in six weeks or three months at the most. Advantage should have been taken of the favourable atmosphere of the climate that had been brought about in India: Mr. Nehru’s acceptance, and the confidence with which the Commission had inspired him to accomplish all this in three months. But instead, we began to be asked for clarifications, which bogged us down for a year and a half. Then, of course, the Commission had nothing further to do.”
We note that the dissolution of the Commission was requested and its functions were temporarily assumed by the President of the Security Council, General McNaughton of Canada. It is encouraging to see that the member nations have remained supportive of the UN mechanism on Kashmir. At the same time the leaders of Kashmir do not have any clue in this regard. It is important if our leaders at least read para 79 of the statement made by the Colombian representative at the UN Security Council. He has said, “We cannot recall the resolutions and introduce new elements. Either we should adhere to the previous resolutions or we should introduce new elements. But to recall resolutions and to introduce new elements is to weaken our position, because the only concrete thing we have, the only international instrument or commitment we have, is India’s offer to agree to a plebiscite.”
UK representative at the UN Security Council Noel Baker has also highlighted the merits of stopping the fighting and holding a plebiscite. He has said, “Every member of the Security Council should now agree that plebiscite is really a matter of vital interest of every nation in the United Nations for whom we speak. The plebiscite is the culminating instrument by which the fighting can be stopped. It is the means by which we can create stable conditions in which an assured peace for years to come shall be established between India and Pakistan; it is the means by which we hope to avert a conflict which will involve 400 million people…This plebiscite must inspire confidence in everybody, including those who are now fighting.”
Imagine if we had appointed President of the International Red Cross as Plebiscite Administrator and had agreed to allow India 21,000 troops and Pakistan 6,000 troops on their sides of cease fire line. Imagine if it was 31 March 1959 and Rajnath Singh thanking Prime Minister of Kashmir Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad for exempting him from the requirement of an ‘entry permit’. We should have been discussing the unresolved question of the sovereignty of the State and not Agenda of Alliance and question of security.

The author is the President of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He is on UN Register as an Expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. Author could be reached at dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com

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